I hear so often “When can I do [insert exercise or sport of your choice] again?”
So first, take care and time with your goals mindset here, especially if your ‘exercise of choice’ involves a marathon, taking an intense HIIT class or a 100KG deadlift. Awesome goals but not awesome for a woman who had a baby in recent weeks, months or sometimes even years, and whose body is not ready to run, lift, jump or plank, just yet.
But note, ‘yet’. Not ‘ever’. You just need to build your foundations first.
There’s frustration around having to take things slowly after having a baby. We see images everywhere of toned celebs who have “snapped back”, alongside body-shaming photos of those who according to the ever-judging media, have somehow missed the mark. Is it any wonder we put so much pressure upon ourselves to rush back to doing the heavy, high impact stuff?
So when can we get back to the exercises and activities we love doing?
When can we return to Zumba class, start holding that yoga pose we’re determined to master? Start beating pre-pregnancy PBs in weightlifting? Rejoin your favourite HIIT class and work up a sweat?
Here’s the thing, my love. It depends. There’s no one size fits all criteria for returning to high impact exercise post-baby. Exactly what you wanted to hear, right? 😉
We start by listening to our body.
You need to listen and look out for the signs it’s clearly giving you.
when your body is telling you it is not ready to do what you’re asking it to do post-baby
- If you ever wee yourself, even a little bit! NO, “oops moments” are not okay or normal. Tena, we’re looking at you! Pelvic floor weakness is a red flag that something isn’t right
- If you have any kind of pain in the pelvic or lower back area whilst exercising or after exercising
- If your core feels unstable or you feel like your insides are unsupported when you do any exercise
- If you shake or tremble during any exercise, yoga pose, movement or hold. Have you ever done a plank and your whole body trembles? That’s what I mean!
- Doming, bulging, straining, protrusion or anything sticking out where it shouldn’t be from your abdomen or pelvic floor, during or after exercise
Any of the above sound like you? If the answer is yes then certain types of exercise will only make you mummy tummy worse. No amount of planking, crunching or running is going to flatten your tummy, help to heal your diastasis recti or stop leaking after baby.
Exercises to avoid
With diastasis recti, core weakness, pelvic floor dysfunction, and any nagging symptoms you aren’t sure about
❌ Sit-ups or crunches
❌ Oblique twists
❌ V-sits of any kind. Yogis, avoid Boat pose.
❌ Jumping or skipping
❌ Heavy lifting
Core exercise should go hand in hand with ‘working out’. It’s not something we do for a while and then forget about, once we’re back to the fun, sweaty, heavy stuff. Mindful core work needs to be at the forefront of your mind always, and that doesn’t matter if you’re lifting your 7kg baby out of her cot or an 80kg barbell at the gym. If you throw everything you’ve learnt about core out the window once you hit the running track or your local bootcamp, you will risk undoing all your hard work up until this point.
Putting the time into core exercise and making it part of your every day, for every day going forward as long as you want to be a healthy, happy, functional and strong human being, is the key to making this work and to being able to do the stuff you love.
So your first vital lesson is that core exercise isn’t a temporary replacement for the juicy stuff, it’s fundamental to your health, wellbeing and movement from here on out. Stop seeing it as ‘core exercise’ because it should be woven into your every day. The core is the primary, most important exercises.
You cannot strengthen or build muscles that aren’t functioning optimally. If your core or pelvic floor muscles are not working right, you can’t just make them stronger by planking, crunching or running to your heart’s content.
You won’t make these muscles stronger unless you address why they ended up like this in the first place.
All that will happen instead is that other parts of your body – namely your abdomen, or pelvic floor, will take up the strain…
…Or worse, they won’t take the strain, but instead will blow. When excess intra abdominal pressure is too much for your non-functioning muscles to withstand, this comes in the form or prolapse, hernia, diastasis recti, abdominal separation, mummy tummy, a leaky undercarriage. These are all signs that your core isn’t working properly. Signs of a core that IS NOT ready to run faster, lift heavier, plank for longer, crunch more, and just work on through. Signs that your core IS NOT WORKING right.
So to answer your original question. When can you hurry up and do the hardcore exercise again? When your body isn’t giving you ANY of the warning signals above, even if just a little bit when you are free of all of the danger signs listed above.
Your body will thank you for taking the time to properly heal and restore your core, to ensure it is functioning properly and in correct alignment. When you have done this work and you are ready to move on, you can gradually progress to the exercise or movement you love, but keep in mind everything you’ve learnt from MUTU System, how to mindfully move, engage your muscles and move correctly whilst doing any exercise. You must weave all the knowledge you’ve acquired into your workouts, poses, movements and every day. These all need a core that works.
If you have or have had prolapse or hernia, surgically repaired or not, you must seek the advice of a specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapist to discuss your individual circumstances and whether or not you should ever do these types of exercises again. It’s better to work with our body rather than against it, pushing it through the leaking, pain and instability. There are plenty of alternative exercises you can do with the guidance of your physio.
Listen to your body. Notice the signs and signals. Don’t ignore its screams for you to stop. Back up, focus on function and strength first and don’t settle for the Tena Lady pads. You deserve a body that works and allows you to do the stuff you love, without pissing yourself.
The MUTU System program has been designed with your body in mind. The workouts are gradual and restorative, slowly introducing intensive, fat burning, low impact workouts, when you are ready. You’ll be taught how to assess yourself, how to know when you can ‘move on’ and how to adapt when your body isn’t strong enough just yet.
For full body confidence, a flatter tummy post-baby, a core that works and allows you to do the stuff you need to do and a life free of niggling post-baby symptoms. You can have the goals of lifting heavier, running for longer, or being the Queen of Burpees, but your primary goal should be to have a body that works so that you can…
Get a fully functioning core and pelvic floor, understand body alignment and use all of this when you move, then you can exercise and move any way you like!
Enrol in the medically acclaimed, award-winning, NHS approved MUTU System today